Say howdy to Tara Meyers, author of the cozy mystery, You Can Lead a Horse to Murder!
Intro: What is your name, what do you write, and where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythical being or creature, who or what would you be?
Tara Meyers (Ellis)
Under Tara Meyers, I write romantic suspense and cozy mysteries
Under Tara Ellis, I write middle grade mystery, young adult scifi, and a true stories of survival series
I can be found on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Bookbub, and of of course, Amazon!
I think I would want to be a dragon. I’ve always wanted to fly! 😉
- What is your book about? What inspired it?
My book is about a 28-yr-old newly licensed veterinarian who moves back to her small hometown to open her own practice after her mother’s death. Even before her business is officially open, Ember finds herself in the middle of a complicated situation that will challenge her in multiple ways. I’ve been writing a middle grade mystery series for four years now. While I love it (and will continue to write new stories for it), I wanted to go a step further and bring the same type of light, intriguing stories to an adult audience.
- I read on your blog that you were a volunteer firefighter and EMT. I think that’s so cool. Did anything you learned during that time of your life influence your books or help you write particularly difficult scenes?
Absolutely! In my young adult series, there’s a scene where the MC has to perform CPR on someone, and I don’t have a problem saying that it’s very accurate and realistic for both the physical and emotional aspects. I was also a support officer, (and 911 dispatcher) so I received training in how to cope with trauma and how the brain works to process certain things. I apply all of these experiences in various ways to my characters to try and make them more both believable and relatable.
- You have written in various genres from romance, to suspense, to middle grade mystery. What made you want to try your hand at a cozy mystery?
I already answered this question partway. But in addition to wanting to “up my game” with storylines, I’ve also yearned to write in a genre that has a larger audience. Middle grade is extremely hard when it comes to marketing, and cozies are very popular right now. So, in addition to it being fun to write, I believe (hope) it’s a smart business move.
- Do you find there are central themes or elements that are unique to your books? (For example, are you drawn to anti-heroes, antagonists, certain settings etc.) Why do those things stand out to you?
Yes, most of my stories have some sort of outdoors or nature element to it. I think this goes back to the old adage of “write what you know”. I’m a perfectionist, and I want every aspect of my stories to be believable. I love the outdoors, and I have a vivid memory of the sights/smells/emotions associated with it, so that makes it easier for me to write about it. Plus, it creates a great atmosphere and backdrop for a mystery!
- As implied by the title, You Can Lead a Horse to Murder, horses and life as a vet feature predominately in your novel. What experience did you have in those fields? Any interesting tidbits you picked up during your research?
Well, as a child, for some time I wanted to be a veterinarian and even considered pursuing it briefly when I started college. However, as mentioned in my book, it’s as much school as is involved in becoming a medical doctor. It’s a huge commitment! I’ve also always had a special love for horses, so when plotting both the setting for my series as well as the first story and how all of the others will develop, it was natural for me to pick both the small town in the mountains, and the role of veterinarian for the MC. I was surprised at how much research was involved in You Can Lead a Horse to Murder. I write extensive plots and outlines prior to writing. My last scifi book took three months of plotting! I thought this one would go faster than it did, because I took special care to make sure what I was including about the horse and the medical aspects were accurate. One thing I had no idea about was the birth process (foaling) and potential problems!
- I read on your website that you wrote your first novel, a children’s book, when you were only 16. Can you pick out the three to five biggest things you learned from that experience?
Perseverance, patience, confidence, and to follow your heart. I originally finished it (publish-ready) when I was twenty, and was incredibly excited when, after mailing out the manuscript to several publishers, got what I thought was a legitimate offer. It turned out to be a vanity press and I was seriously crushed by it. So much so, that I literally put it in a shoe box, stuck it on a shelf, and didn’t pull it back out again until twenty years later. I re-wrote it, but kept much of the original story intact. It was basically a massive edit with a couple of chapters added. The fact that it has now turned into a (currently) 8 book series with a decent following blows my mind.
- On your blog, you mentioned having to learn the “proper” way to create an outline. There are so many variations on the process. What can you say about your method?
First of all, I should point out that it’s the proper way for “me” to write an outline. I realize that it really is different for every author, and not all of us even like to use one. For me, If I don’t have it I get lost in the storyline. It becomes too convoluted to the point where I don’t want to write it anymore. First, I use an 8 step-method I found online for listing out the plot and plot points, and sub plot points. This helps me create the general story idea and major “beats”. I then list out the chapters, and do outlines for every chapter. Then, I start to write. As I’m writing, I’m filling in any holes in advance by reviewing the outlines for the upcoming chapters, so that when I sit down to write, I already have the scene (and usually the dialogue) straight in my head. It’s what works for me!
- What is/are one or two pieces of advice that you learned while publishing your first book that you wish you had known before you started?
Pay for a professional cover artist and pay for a professional editor. I ended up going back and doing both of those things for my first book!! 😊
- Favorite quote from your work?
“United we stand, divided we fall.” – Descent, The Forgotten Origins Trilogy
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Ironically (because I owe my publishing career to the online community), I would turn time back on technology. I think it will ultimately be our demise.
- This is random but fun one, if you could pick any time period to live in, when would you live and why?
The mid to late 1800s, in the West. While I might think differently if I actually found myself in the situation, I long for a time when life was simple. In simple, I mean you worked to survive, loved your family, and that was pretty much it.
- What is one book you think every YA writer should read at least once?
Not to sound cliché, but The Hunger Games. I avoided reading it for years, because there was so much hype around the series and I’m usually very disappointed when I go to read them. But The Hunger Games is an exceptionally written series. It’s an incredible (if not difficult) storyline, that both sparks the imagination and makes you think about things, especially with the world we live in today. It was what compelled me to write my own trilogy in the first person, present tense. It was an incredible challenge but I’m so glad I did it. It really puts you (the reader) in the story, and especially in the MC’s head. While there is a lot of violence, there’s hardly any language and no sex, which is also hard to find nowadays!
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!